WINTER 2004 -- Information and Computer Science -- UC Irvine -- David G. Kay -- ICS 104


General assignment guidelines: The guidelines given below apply to all assignments unless an assignment explicitly says otherwise. Read them now and read them again once or twice during the quarter.


  1. First Homework (due by noon on Monday, January 26)

  2. Second Homework (due by noon on Friday, February 6)

  3. Third Homework (due by noon on Wednesday, February 25)

  4. Fourth Homework (due by noon on Wednesday, March 17)

Justifying your arguments and writing clearly: As we have said before, when you evaluate or design an interface, it isn't enough just to state your conclusion ("I think this arrangement is confusing" or "I placed the Save button on the right"). You must justify your decisions in terms of the goals, principles, or guidelines that we are studying ("This arrangement is confusing because it includes unnecessary colors, which Kobsa's guidelines for general screen layout say to avoid" or "I placed the Save button on the right because it's on the right in all the dialog boxes in this system, which follows the usability heuristic of maintaining consistency with system conventions").

We expect that all your writing in this course will be clear, concise, and well organized, following the conventions of standard academic English. While the occasional misplaced comma or grammatical misstep will pass beneath our notice, work whose clear expression is obscured by multiple flaws will receive a lower score. In HCI terms, the usability principle of adhering to standards and conventions dictates that your prose writing follow these norms.

It's a good idea to have close at hand a paperback English dictionary and a writing guide (such as Writing from A to Z by Ebest et al., which is used in lower-division writing courses at UCI).

Assignment submission and illustrations: Where possible, we'd prefer that you submit your work completely in electronic form using Checkmate (; see below). We also encourage you to use illustrations in your work whenever they make your point effectively. You should try, where you can, to produce those illustrations on line and incorporate them into your electronic documents. We recognize, though, that few computer-based tools are as quick and convenient as a hand-drawn sketch. Appropriate hand-drawn sketches are far better than nothing, so if you find a situation that needs illustration but where computer-based illustration would be impractical, you may submit a paper version of your assignment (at the time and place we designate) and the handwritten illustrations won't lower your score. In those cases, please also submit an electronic version via Checkmate (with some notation like "illustration supplied on paper version" where the hand-drawn illustrations would go).

If you plan to submit an assignment on paper, either deliver it to the TA in section or submit it by the deadline to the ICS Distribution Center (whose hours are available at

If you don't know how to take a screen shot on whatever system(s) you use and paste those images into a document, now's the time to find out. In most cases, producing a snapshot of an actual existing screen is quicker than sketching the relevant details by hand, so the screen shot is what you should use.

To get set up for electronic submission, go to, log in with your UCInet ID, choose "Course Listing" for "Winter 2004," click "Go" next to ICS 104, and then click "List me for this course."

Plagiarism--don't do it: Plagiarism means presenting somebody else's work as if it's your own. You may use whatever outside sources (books, friends, interviews, periodicals) are appropriate for an assignment, so long as you cite them: Any time you use two or more words in a row that you didn't think up and write yourself, you must put the words in quotation marks and indicate where they came from. (There could be situations where this two-word rule isn't appropriate. If you think you have one, check with us.) Even if you paraphrase (state in your own words) someone else's work or ideas, you should cite the source (e.g., "Dijkstra says that unrestricted branching is dangerous."). Plagiarism is academically dishonest, and we expect that nobody in the class will engage in it.

That should be enough said, but unfortunately there have been instances of plagiarism in these courses in the past. We will check for it both manually and by using software that compares students' work with work from other sources, including the Internet and work submitted in previous quarters. ICS department policy is that plagiarists fail the course and have their offense recorded in the department office. Academic honesty violations can affect a student's graduation, financial aid, and eligibility for honors. The department deals with plagiarism cases every quarter, even though most people don't hear about them. No matter how pressured you feel, don't plagiarize; it's not worth it.